The Cleveland Indians filled one of their three gaping offensive holes today by signing former Oriole and Diamondback Mark Reynolds. Reynolds is known for two things, striking out and hitting home runs (in that order). Four of the past five seasons he has lead his league in strike outs while hitting 23 or more home runs each season. Most importantly for the Indians, Reynolds has had no significant injury problems over his career, playing in 135 games or more each season since his rookie year when he played 111. He will make $6M for 2013 with another $1.5M in incentives, a significant decrease from what the Indians would have had to pay Travis Hafner had they accepted his option. Reynolds looks to be about the same quality of player as Hafner, but more durable, younger and able to play in the field.
Reynolds ability to play first base brings to mind a few more questions. Will the Indians use him primarily at first or DH? If they are going to use hit as designated hitter, will they still pursue Kevin Youkilis who has already been offered a reported deal worth $18M over two years? Defensively as a first baseman, Reynolds is at least serviceable and the Indians currently have no other Major League options available. Without another signing, there would be little reason to regularly DH Reynolds unless Yan Gomes turns out to be more than a back-up catcher. If this is the case, Carlos Santana could be used at first or DH while Reynolds played the opposite. Of course all experiments undertaken by the Indians in this direction in recent years have been disastrous (Kelly Shoppach, Einar Diaz and Lou Marson).
If the Indians don't believe they can compete in 2013 the offensive signings should probably end here with internal options like Thomas Neal, Russ Canzler and newcomer Chris McGuiness given shots at the rest of the openings. However, if they would like to try to win the division or at least have more than 10,000 people show up per game, they need to make at least one more move. This could be a trade for someone like Alfonso Soriano or Justin Upton or stealing Youkilis away from the Yankees. A single extra offensive player would still allow the Indians to develop young talent like Lonnie Chisenhall at the Major League level while attempting to compete. Even with the $6M added for Reynolds, the Indians are still below last years salary after dumping Hafner, Roberto Hernandez, Grady Sizemore and Rafael Perez, so there should be some room to take on more salary.
Overall this move was a solid, financially sound move by the Indians, picking up a player who has been underrated for years due to his propensity to strike out, while still saving enough money to improve the team some more. If nothing else, there is now a player on the Indians roster who hit more than 20 home runs in 2012.